Steve June 4, 2022
11-lgbtq-actors-who-influenced-their-characters,-showing-why-representation-matters

“I am so honored I got to say that line on TV because it’s a long time coming.”

1. Chris Colfer’s role as Kurt in Glee was actually written for the actor. A plot line where Kurt wants to sing “Defying Gravity” but is met by resistance was inspired by a real-life incident where Chris was told he couldn’t sing the solo at his high school’s talent show because it was a “girl’s song.”

Fox

“I told him I had played Kurt in The Sound of Music when I was younger. The next thing I knew, an agent calls and says they don’t want me for Artie, but they’re creating this new role they wanted me to audition for instead,” Chris recalled.

2. Lachlan Watson was cast onThe Chilling Adventures of Sabrina as a trans man, but spoke to the showrunner about slowing down character Theo’s transition.

Netflix

“By existing and showing up and being a different person, a different identity that the writers may not have even known about before, I think in that way, I influenced Theo’s character,” they told MTV. “I showed that it was possible to just hold off a second, and to just live in the gray area.”

3. Denise from Master of None was originally written as a straight, white woman — but all that changed when Lena Waithe was introduced to the show’s creators after they asked the casting director to send over “interesting people.” The episode “Thanksgiving” was co-written by Lena, and inspired by her own coming out story.

Netflix

Lena originally wasn’t intending to write her story, previously telling BuzzFeed, “I’m a big fan of telling a story about queer people post-coming out, because the truth is we’re more than our coming out story.” However, after being asked about her coming out story in the writers’ room, she thought, “This will be the one and only time I do this. Let me do it right, let me knock it out the park, because I’m not going to tell that story again.” Lena subsequently became the first Black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.

4. Stephanie Beatriz’s character, Rosa Diaz, came out as bi a year after Stephanie herself did. Stephanie was approached by the writers of Brooklyn 99 and acted as “almost like a consultant” for the episode where Rosa comes out to her parents.

Fox

“They immediately gave me a call and said, ‘We’re interested in exploring this, but we want to do it the right way. So do you want to do it?’ And from then on I was almost like a consultant on the episode, and I really wanted to do things that felt specific to Latinx culture,” Stephanie explained.

5. Hunter Schafer’s Euphoria role, Jules, was based on her. Hunter even went on to co-write and co-produce a Euphoria episode, “Fuck Anyone Who’s Not a Sea Blob,” centered on her character.

HBO Max

She previously said of the episode, “I’m really happy with how it turned out, and obviously I feel so safe with Sam [Levinson] to just throw out any ideas. He gets it down to a tee as far as who I am, and my values as a trans person, and what I’m looking for when I consume trans media. And also just like we want to make cool shit about trans people, so I hope [the episode] fell into that category.”

6. Dan Levy wrote the relationship between David and Patrick on Schitt’s Creek as a response to the depiction of gay relationships he saw growing up. He made the “active choice” to have the couple be physically intimate on screen and refused to do a “will they, won’t they” plot as he wanted “to see a successful queer relationship on television.”

Steve Wilkie / CBC / POP / courtesy Everett Collection

“I wanted them to kiss every time they saw each other. As couples do. I didn’t want to tiptoe around the physicality, out of any kind of fear that someone, somewhere in America wouldn’t like it. Change the channel,” he recalled.

7. The showrunner of Grey’s Anatomy worked with actor Alex Blue Davis and GLAAD for a scene where Alex’s character, Dr. Casey Parker, hacks into the DMV database and changes his gender marker. The scene ended up being rewritten multiple times, and Alex said that he cried during the table read because he was so moved.

ABC

Alex said. “I’ve been waiting for a moment like this on TV my whole life. I am so honored I got to say that line on TV because it’s a long time coming.”

8. Isaiah Stannard came out as trans as filming began for Good Girls, leading his part to be rewritten as a trans boy. “We realized we had a really great opportunity to tell a story about a character who was gender non-conforming, but at the same time not necessarily have that be what leads the story,” creator Jenna Bans later said.

NBC

Isaiah has also said that watching Jules on Euphoria encouraged him “continue disregarding the boundaries of gender and expression.”

9. Sara Ramirez pitched for their Grey’s Anatomy character, Callie Torres, to be bisexual — even though they weren’t ready to come out as bi themselves yet. Callie subsequently became the longest-running LGBTQ character on TV history.

ABC

 “I wanted to pursue a storyline where Callie would discover that she was attracted to women as well as men,” Sara explained. “[Shonda Rhimes] knew I was bi.”

10. Ellen DeGeneres wanted her character in the show Ellen to come out as Ellen herself came out publicly, becoming the first gay lead character on television.

ABC

As for the episode’s name, “The Puppy Episode,” it came from the studio’s initial hesitance to have Ellen come out on TV. “The writers told the executives that they wanted me to come out, because my character needed to be in a relationship after four years of not being in a relationship. Someone at the studio said, ‘Well, get her a puppy; she’s not coming out,'” Ellen recalled.

11. Finally, after Elliot Page himself came out, his Umbrella Academy character was reintroduced as Viktor Hargreeves ahead of the release of Season 3. Conversations with Elliot subsequently informed the arc of his character through discussions with show runner Steve Blackman and writer Thomas Page McBee.

Christos Kalohoridis / Netflix

Writer Thomas Page McBee explained, “Elliot and I had a long conversation about when and how Viktor may have come to discover his gender identity, and in what ways he might embody that identity in Season 3. Steve [Blackman] and I used Elliot’s insights as a jumping-off point to form and neatly overlay an economical narrative on those existing scenes — one that echoed where Elliot was in his own transition process at the time of shooting.”

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